by Paula M. Riley

It’s that time of year where the scents of evergreen and warm chestnuts fill the air. Ribbons and bows envelope trees and twinkling white lights invite visitors to take a step back in time and see the magical spirit that embodies Chestnut Hill during the holiday season.

The Chestnut Hill Business Association (CHBA), Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District (BID) and Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund (CHGDF) create a holiday experience for residents, visitors and shoppers. Décor is just the beginning. Planning begins when the weather is very warm to ensure that chestnuts roast, shop owners greet customers with cheer, and carolers sing. How does this all happen?

Stag & Doe Nights are perhaps the most popular event during the holidays. On Wednesday evenings, Dec. 5th, 12th and 19th, stores stay open until 9 p.m. with events beginning at 6 p.m. Each week, Santa will walk along the Avenue distributing candy canes to children and adults. Musical performances, including strolling carolers, school groups and individual performers, keep shoppers entertained. Many businesses serve wine, hot cocoa or refreshments as the sidewalks become crowded with families and friends who have made Stag & Doe an important holiday tradition.

“Stag & Doe is Chestnut Hill’s most cherished holiday tradition,” said Kate O’Neill. “So many people come out to shop, stroll and share holiday cheer.”

New to Stag & Doe this year is Gingerbread House Making at the Bredenbeck’s Café. This is located in the former Garden Gate Café building at Germantown Avenue and East Hartwell Lane. Adult-only classes will be held between 7 and 9 p.m. On Saturday and Sundays, Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16, families can get into the action with parent/child classes will be held from 1 to 3 p.m.

As part of the citywide celebration of Dickens’ 100th birthday, CHBA will host “A Dickens Christmas” on Saturday and Sunday, December 8 and 9. The Victorian Christmas celebration includes Dickens carolers, storytelling and scenes from “Great Expectations” performed at Musehouse 7924 Germantown Ave. at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8

Pop-up shops are fast becoming a Chestnut Hill tradition with this year’s Bali to Bala, Curio, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Sundays@Market Artisan Marketplace, and Hillsley/Hood French offering a variety of gift options.

On Monday, Dec. 17, the annual Caroling at the Creche is held at 7 p.m. Families and friends gather around the creche at Sovereign Bank to sing holiday songs and enjoy refreshments.

“Holidays in Chestnut Hill are so magical,” said Miller. “We like to say Chestnut Hill owns the spirit of Christmas.”